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Driver arrested in London train crash that killed 6

September 20, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ Police arrested the driver of a passenger train that plowed into a freight train in west London, killing six people and injuring more than 160.

The 10-car passenger express from Swansea, Wales, was bound for London’s Paddington Station on Friday afternoon when it hit an empty freight train that was crossing the main line toward the freight yard..

The unidentified driver of the Great Western express, was arrested Friday evening for investigation of a manslaughter charge.

British Transport Police questioned him about the crash and said he passed a breath test for alcohol. He was freed on bail early today.

The passengers on the train included journalists returning from covering Thursday’s referendum for a Welsh assembly.

Among those killed was one of Sweden’s most famous radio journalists, Marcus Olander. Olander, 60, recently was appointed Swedish radio’s London correspondent.

With the exception of Olander, all of the dead were residents of Britain.

Thirteen people suffered serious injuries in the crash and eight remained hospitalized today. About 150 suffered minor injuries. Many people were able to walk away, shaken but unhurt. The driver of the freight train also survived.

Rail workers brought two huge cranes to the crash site at Southall station today to clear piles of twisted metal from the main line.

Police had declared the site a crime scene, so workmen had to wait until officers completed a detailed daylight search before the cranes could be used to shift the wreckage and free the rail line for weekend traffic.

Rescue workers spent hours Friday afternoon prying apart the pileup at the front of the express to free trapped passengers. Workers labored under arc lights into the night to remove the last three bodies.

Great Western suspended services from Paddington station, which serves a wide area of western and southern England and south Wales.

Three investigations were under way _ by British Transport Police, by Railtrack, which is responsible for the track, and by the government’s Health and Safety Department.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who visited the scene Friday, said he had instigated an inquiry.

``It is far too early to speculate about the cause of the accident. I have talked to the Railway Inspectorate. They have inspectors on site and will make a detailed examination to establish why the accident happened,″ Prescott said in a statement.

Friday’s accident was the worst rail crash in Britain since December 1988, when three trains collided outside Clapham Junction in south London, killing 35 people and injuring 113.

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